The Chicago Police Department has created new crime maps that display gang territories within the city. But will these territory maps help stop gang violence, or will they encourage it? GbBIS looks at the controversy surrounding gang maps.
Chicago’s police commissioner, Garry McCarthy, drew heavy criticism this summer when public safety statistics were released. The results were less than promising: homicides had risen 38% from last year. To deal with the problem, the police department conducted a “crime audit,” which included the creation of up-to-date gang territory maps of the city.
But the city has been reluctant to make these gang maps public. Many think that if gang members got a hold of the maps, it would incite territory rivalries. “We don’t want to either glorify a gang or maybe unintentionally cause a gang rift,” said Nicholas Roti, chief of organized crime for the city. “You [a gang member] could look at a map and say, ‘They got way more territory than us.’”
But many people have countered the concerns of the police department. Firstly, gangs are way more familiar with their territories than the police are; a gang map wouldn’t give gangs any new information. Also, most of the police department’s data is from 2010. Gang territories could be completely different today than they were 2 years ago.
Although controversy continues to surround Chicago’s latest gang data, gang territory maps are not a new thing. Police departments, government agencies, and businesses have been using maps to visualize crime data for years. Knowing crime data and demographics can help your business make better decisions and keep your employees safe.